I first encountered Harry Absalom and his exploits in the 2000AD Programme 2013 special; after reading it i liked it so much i decided to order the collected trade from Amazon, and i couldn't have made a better choice.
Detective Inspector Harry Absalom is a veteran copper in London, who heads a special squad that enforces The Accord - a diplomatic treaty made in the sixteenth century between the throne of England and hell. If any demonic entities step out of line Harry and his team track the offenders down.
The comic was serialised in 2000AD and is an offshot of Caballistic Inc. But on this evidence Absalom more than holds its own. The story is written by Gordon Rennie and illustrated by the ever brilliant Tiernen Trvallion. When i first encountered his artwork in 2000AD/ Judge Dredd Megazine i fell head over er, heels in love with it! His artwork is a little reminscent of Mike Mignola's style, but more detailed and dare i say more accessible. sometimes there's a lot of things happening in just one panel as we shall see.
The trade consists of three stories. First of these is 'Noblesse Oblige'.
The story revolves around an escaped immate from a private santorium in Cumbria. It turns out that the escapee is a half breed demon. We learn that Cumbria is a place where the demon hierarchy (the Rathborne lineage) keep their offsprings which are born defective or too unhuman-like. The demonic lineage has infiltrated those in high society namely the royal family, rich bankers 'a couple of celebrity chefs and a few of the smug looking gits on the TV comedy quiz shows'. Soon Harry Absalom and his squad is tasked with finding the dangerous escapee. Along for the hunt is a new recruit, DS Jemima Hopkins. Harry's squad consists of himself, DS Terrance Sangster who is his understudy, Barney who can tell everything about a crime scene by the unorthodox method of tasting evidence. And by evidence we mean anything...even the victims blood! We also have two big blokes who act as bodyguards. But theres a slight oddity about them because it turns out they're both 'homunculi' (very Mignola-esque!), grown in Exeter! And of course DS Jemima Hopkins is thrown into the deep end of this very odd group indeed! But if she had any qualms or reservations about her safety she need not worry because Harry Absalom can more than hold his own and is one miserable bastard to have on your side, especially in times of trouble as they do in this particular case.
Another memorable character we also get to meet Mr. Critch, a 'butler' who's been serving the Rathborne family for centuries - kept alive by clockwork and patchwork (again very Mignola-esque or even Guillermo-esque!). The story comes to a very satisfying end, but not before it is revealed that there is a mole within Absalom's team...
'Sick Leave' was the second story. Here we see Harry Absalom making a visit to a hospital for checkup. He is suffering from pancreatic cancer ( this is not a spoiler as we learn about this from the start of the book) and he has been with this affliction for some time. In the first story it is hinted at thay Harry Absalom may be much older than he looks...not a few years here or there but much, much older as in centuries. Maybe kept alive a la Mr. Critch to do his masters bidding? Afterall he is the best at what he does. Anyhow, at the hospital he comes across a very familiar sight, familiar as in a doppelganger familiar! Albeit his double is in a far worse state. We gather from the encounter that this person or entity is the grim reaper. Its a really macabre moment and what makes it that more brilliant is the fact that at the same time, his team are in a run down estate in east London getting chased by a gang of demon hoodies! Although its a short read, its still a brilliant read which also helps us to learn more about the characters.
The third and last story in the trade is 'Ghosts of London'. Its my favourite story out of the three but only by a small margin because the others are so strong, but the thing that made it for me was one character - Spring Heeled Jack! He along with other strange phenomena is sweeping London. In the Thames the public are greeted with a river full of decapitated heads which appear to be from the Roman era. We have fire sweeping Pudding Lane where of course the Great Fire of London took place. And Cable Street in east London is witness to a mob battle between fascists and demonstrators reminiscent of Mosley's Battle of Cable Street. And of course that springy fella jumping from rooftop to rooftop. Just what the hell is going on? How are these historic incidents happening in present day London? Thats where Detective Inspector Harry Absalom and his team come in.
This story was such an enjoyable and entertaining read. Tiernan Trevalion's superb artwork is just mouthwatering to behold. As i stated earlier his panels have so much happening. One of my favourite is when we see Absalom in conversation with DS Hopkins whilst behind them a policeman is chasing after a dog who's running off with a severed head! Its a really hilarious sight. Another is of Harry hanging from a window ledge, "b****ks" he cries as the shape of Spring Heeled Jack is seen jumping away on the rooftops behind. Its such a brilliant shot, with many things happening in one panel. Of course all this is just part of the enjoyment; Gordon Rennie's witty writing with some memorable one liners for our miserable likeable inspector another part of the reason why Absalom: Ghosts of London is such an awesome read.